For such a small slice of Death Valley, the Nevada Triangle holds many attractions.
On a map, the region opens, fanlike, toward northern Death Valley, between the Grapevine and Cottonwood Mountains. Squeezing through the Grapevine Mountains is Titus Canyon Road, which winds more than 27 spectacular backcountry miles down to the valley floor, dense with salt and sand and with little human population. Here, boulder-filled alluvial fans lead to steep mountains and the area’s signature wind-sculpted canyons.
Black dust clouds have been known to sweep down into Stovepipe Wells seemingly from nowhere.Stovepipe Wells, a touring outpost built in 1926, still sits on the toll road (now Hwy. 190) that officially kicked off tourism in Death Valley. The road was originally built to join Stovepipe Wells with Lone Pine in the Sierra Nevada, and now serves as the park hub for this region, with a campground, a hotel, a restaurant, and a gas station.
Black dust clouds have been known to sweep down into Stovepipe Wells seemingly from nowhere. Camping at Stovepipe Wells one spring evening at dinnertime, we noticed a big dark cloud hovering over the Cottonwood Mountains. We had just enough time to look up and wonder if it could possibly be rain on this clear sunny day when the dust storm hit. A downburst of cold air pummeled the campground as we all held on. It swept out as quickly as it came, leaving the campground strewn with equipment—unstaked tents had taken off like kites. Shellshock gave way to awe as a double-rainbow appeared and we realized we had experienced the sheer intensity of the desert.
Planning Your Time
The Nevada Triangle sits on the northeastern edge of Death Valley. Navigating this region can be a little tricky and involves some forethought. Some sights, like the ghost town of Chloride City or the spectacular one-way Titus Canyon Road, can only be accessed from outside the park on the Nevada side. Beatty, Nevada, offers the closest access to these sights.
Stovepipe Wells is the park hub for this region and is a good place to set up base camp. The village is at 10 feet above sea level and is hot much of the year, and windswept the rest. Using Stovepipe Wells as a base, it’s possible to see the highlights and get in one good meaty canyon hike, such as Marble Canyon, in three days.
Spend one day near Stovepipe Wells Village, which offers close proximity to the Mesquite Flat sand dunes and several canyon hikes. Visiting Rhyolite or Chloride City, then driving the Titus Canyon Road, will fill a second day. A third day could be spent exploring the Red Wall and Fall Canyons along Highway 190, north of Titus Canyon Road.
Although this is the second major park hub in Death Valley, after Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells does not have a visitors center. There is a small Ranger Station where you can pay entrance fees and get general information and backcountry information. The Death Valley Natural History Association also has books and maps for sale here. Entrance fees can be paid using an automated kiosk outside the ranger station that takes cash and plastic.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Death Valley National Park.